July 30

In 1894 a letter bearing this date was written by an English gentlemen named William Morris, using as his address, Kelmscott House:

My Dear Cockerell
I have to be at court tomorrow before 10 in order to be the first witness examined, so I shall probably miss you, and I shall probably not be back here till next Monday: so I leave these instructions.

Open all letters and send on those that need immediate answer or which might please me.

Let me know how the sales are going on Thursday. Kindly take the Huntingfield to Quaritch in a day or two. I have told him that I am not going to buy it.

I got three hours off the dangling this morning and called on Quaritch and told him about the Chaucer and that I was going to publish it myself: he was not surprised, but on my asking him how much he had sold produced a list of 43 sold to private persons, remarking, as was true, that the trade would probably transfer their orders to us. Finally he ordered 50 at 25 per cent discount, which I agreed to. Please write and acknowledge this order.

The number of the Chaucer is to be 325 paper, and 13 (or 14?) vellum. The price £20 done up in boards like The Golden Legend. Having gone over the number of lines with Ellis, I find it will not make more than 600 pages, which will go into one volume.

When I come back I shall bring the corrected hymn book sheets. I want Bowden to have everything ready to begin the Chaucer on Monday: I shall be disappointed if he cannot do this.

If Bowden wants anything settled you must settle it, please, on your own responsibility. Send me on James if he writes.

This is all I can think of.

Yours ever

The Chaucer, the fortieth book printed at the Kelmscott Press, became in the words of one writer, “not only William Morris’s monument, [but] it can stand, with the Albert Memorial and the Forth Bridge, as a memorial of the virility of the Victorians.”

The book, of which 425 copies on paper were printed, was in the making one year and nine months. As a representation of the art and craft of printing it is a magnificent work. As a readable book it is of course something else again, but this is neither here nor there. It is almost inconceivable that any printer could examine a Kelmscott Chaucer and not be beside himself with admiration for the quality of the printing and be enthused enough to attempt to emulate it.

The £20 price was a splendid bargain, too. Currently a paper copy “done up in boards” would cost a collector $1250 to $1600. The vellum of which fourteen copies were printed at one hundred and twenty guineas could also be considered reasonable in price as it is now offered at $6,500 to $10,000, although the price has gone as high as $12,500.

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